Live from #AGU12 Day 2

I started day two of AGU with a talk by Robert Simmon (@rsimmon) on art, aesthetics, design, and data visualization and communication with the public. He featured some of Earth Observatory’s most popular photos / infographics and walked us through why they work. He continued to emphasize thinking about how the audience’s brain and eyes will look at the data presented. Poorly displayed data is a problem in science. I would like to cover design more, so I’m going to save my comments for a future post.

Heather Savage gave a talk about frictional heating of organics in the core recovered by the JFAST expedition. We can’t tell if the heating is from the Tohuku earthquake, but the rocks were certainly heated.

The highlight of the day was James Cameron’s talk discussing his deep sea dive.

He gave a great talk discussing the design, engineering, and building of the submersible. Then he talked about  some of his experiences on the dive. There was great video to go along with his talk. James is definitely a scientist, he had a complete understanding of what he was talking about and was very good at conveying that information.

Another fantastic talk was by Ross Stein on global earthquake hazard awareness. That was one of the best talks I’ve ever heard. Ross is a great story teller.

The afternoon held some blogger talks. Chris Rowan (@Allochthonous) convinced us all to get twitter accounts.

I popped over to the geothermal talks to see some awesome 3D data visualization in the UC Davis KECKCave.

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Live from #AGU12 Day 1

Okay, so not quite “live”. Today was a bit hectic. I was presenting my poster in the afternoon, and met with visiting family in the morning (I can’t believe I haven’t seen them for 11 months!). I still managed to see a few talks. Cecilia Cheung spoke about the effects of grainsize distribution on compaction band development. A heterogeneous grainsize inhibits compaction banding. I then bounced over to a different room to catch M Doane discuss the affects of talc content on fault friction and style. An increasing talc content creates a diffuse anastimosing shear network. 

I missed the much-hype curiosity announcement. Sounds like the data is solid and awesome, but no huge discoveries.
My poster session was a lot of fun. I got some good feedback and am looking forward to thinking more on my ideas. Time for some more beer!

AGU Fall Meeting Just around the corner!


Corona Heights Fault from tsherry on Vimeo.

WOWZERS?! This has been a hell of a past few weeks getting my poster together for the annual AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

I’ve finally got my poster done. Check it out on AGU ePosters.

I’ll be presenting my work from Summer mapping in Namibia. Come find me Monday afternoon in T13E: Earthquake deformation: Integrating Observations and Mechanisms II in Moscone South.

My research group is planning on heading out to the Corona fault in the Castro district look look at an awesome anastimosing fault surface with slicken lines so smooth you can see your reflection. I think there will also be a blogger meet up at some point?

Other goals for my return to California:

  • Catch up with friends
  • Become supersatruated with the best IPAs (and beer in general) in the World
  • Eat so many lengua tacos and so many carnitas burritos.

Under Attack: What to do when your poster is under fire #AGU11

I by no means am offering solutions to this. Instead I hope readers in the comments will help out by posting their past experiences with this situation and detailing how they’ve handled it. That said, I need your help to make this post work! First, my poster experience.

My poster session at #AGU11 went really well. I was at my poster for the full four hours and never got a chance to leave. I was talking the whole time and getting great, positive feedback on my research, and some ideas of where to take it further. 
One gentleman did attack my work. The primary discrepancy came in the fact that he disagreed with outcrop features that I had interpreted as being cross-cutting. He had not personally been to the outcrop, but it was difficult to continue the discussion into the more interesting parts of my research because he would continually cut me off with “that’s not cross cutting.” Basic outcrop information that I had gotten across to everyone before (and after) was not getting to him. I must say it caught me off guard. This was my first time presenting a poster, and I was not sure how to handle this situation. I did my best to have a discussion with him, but it was very frustrating. 
Overall my first poster presentation was a positive experience, and it reignited my drive to finish my #SciWrite manuscript.
So please, readers and fellow GeoBloggers, if you (and/or research) has been attacked at a poster session please post the story and your insights in the comments section!

AGU 2011: Shameless Self Promotion

What is this? Come see my poster! (via C. Rowe. )

The purpose of this post is simply some shameless self promotion for my poster tomorrow morning. Come say Hi and see some incredible photos from one of the best kept(maybe) secrets along the California coast. 

I’m presenting my work on the Panther Beach Injectite complex. Come see some incredible “lava lamp” structures that WILL BLOW YOUR MIND! Not kidding.
I’ll even tell you how to get to the outcrop if you plan on staying in California after the conference.
I’ll be located in the EP 31C aisle. 

Reporting Live After Death: AGU 2011: Day 1

Holy crap, AGU is here and in full swing. The morning kicked off with a bracing cup of Peet’s Coffee and then morning talks. Everything went by so damn fast. Post lunch I went to see the Simon Winchester keynote address.

First (before the speech) there was a rigid speech by the AGU President Michael McPhaden introducing the AGU meeting. Then followed a hilarious welcome to San Francisco video and a welcome message from the Mayor, Edwin Lee. Finally Simon Winchester got up to give his talk.

He told us that he hoped no one in the front row had tomatoes. I was really hoping he would use this opportunity to address many of the issues brought up regarding his News Week article “The Scariest Quake is Yet to Come”. Instead he chose to focus on inspirations for his latest novel. Although a great story teller, I felt recounting his inspirations fell flat in light of more important issues.

Before the Q&A session began after his speech. He did give some explanation for the writing of that article, though he failed to apologize for his lack of correcting himself after the publishing the blatant inaccuracies.

See, that News Week article was on the front page. It spread misinformation to everyone of their readers. However, there was never a rebuttal, or correction published on the same magnitude. The damage was done, and never corrected.

If Simon Winchester had really wanted to apologize he would have written a correcting article and issued a formal apology to the public. Instead he stood by his comments and the fear-mongering misinformation stayed with the public.

Why is Simon Winchester giving the keynote address at AGU?

I wanted to get some more blog post done before AGU, but that just ain’t gonna happen. This’ll be my last post until the conference. Enjoy!


First some recap, if you’re familiar with the Simon Winchester-Earthquake fearmongering debacle, skip this section.

Back in March Simon Winchester, a popular science novelist, wrote an article published in Newsweek Magazine threatening that the next “Big One” earthquake was due to strike San Francisco. His article caused quite an uproar in the geologic and scientific communities. Simon cited several “facts” that he contrived to support his ideas, mainly that there had been three damaging earthquakes: Christchurch (2/22/2011), Chilean (2/27/2010), and the Japan quake (3/11/2011) in three corners of the Pacific Plate, “…leaving just one corner unaffected–the Northeast.” He goes on to state that strains in the San Andreas Fault beneath San Francisco have built up to “barely tolerable levels.” He also loosely calls upon the idea of earthquake cascading, or triggering of earthquakes by previous earthquakes, using a vibrating brass bell analogy.

Anyway, so the “evidence” in his article, and the fear-mongering tone of his article caused quite a stir in the scientific community. My adviser, Christie Rowe, was at the forefront of this discussion, corresponding with Simon, and writing a rebuttal article for Scientific American.
The main problem isn’t that Simon was stating that an earthquake will hit San Francisco. Many of us have seen the USGS Bay Area hazard map, putting a 63% probability of a 6.7 or greater magnitude quake in the next 30 years, likely along the Hayward fault (which has had two small events in the last month). 
The problem lies in his methods. Not only does Simon make large geographical errors, but he also has no evidence. It’s not science. Many people have already covered this, so I don’t want to belaber the topic. The blog Life’s Little Mysteries has a great article on the topic in which they interview David Schwartz, Head of the San Francisco Bay Area Earthquake Hazards Project. Schwartz provides a great rebuttal to Simon’s cascading theory, “When an earthquake happens, it changes the stress in the [local] vicinity around it, and if there are other faults nearby, this increase in the stress can trigger them and produce more earthquakes. In other places, it relaxes the crust and puts earthquakes off.”
The AGU Fall Meeting

Strangely enough, Mr. Winchester is the keynote address at the AGU Fall Meeting this year (Monday, Dec. 5th). I’m not sure why he was invited, considering the flack he got from the scientific community in response to his article. Perhaps this is a ploy by AGU to get Simon face to face with his discreditors and make him answerable to his statements. Maybe Simon will publicly repeal his article and put forth something that has scientific backing?
Either way, I’m eager to see his speech. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to see the mud fly.